According to author, therapist, and attorney, Deedee Cummings, “Emotional burnout happens when you have faced such a high level of stress that your body literally shuts down and just cannot accommodate any more challenges.” It is a gradual process that can creep up on you. It does not happen overnight.

Remember to take care of yourself. You can’t pour from an empty cup. – Kamini Wood

Among the many things that can trigger emotional burnout are struggling to make ends meet, working long hours without enough rest, having a baby, a high-pressure job, unmet needs, unprocessed emotions, sleep deprivation, living with chronic illness, being a caregiver to a loved one, or being flooded by responsibilities you cannot handle on your own.

Left unchecked, emotional burnout can result in an unhealthy release of stress hormones that puts your body in a state of continuous fight-or-flight mode, increases your heart rate and blood pressure, and harms your digestive and immune systems.

Symptoms of emotional burnout.

  • Headaches.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Rapid heartbeat and high blood pressure.
  • A feeling of heaviness in your chest.
  • Dizziness.
  • Back, neck, or shoulder pain.
  • Feeling constantly fatigued.
  • Feeling overextended and depleted.
  • Feelings of dread.
  • Feeling down more than not, and exaggerating the negatives.
  • Not taking proper care of yourself.
  • Difficulty sleeping or staying awake.
  • Changes in eating patterns, such as overeating or loss of appetite.
  • Mental exhaustion, brain fog, confusion, trouble staying focused, and forgetfulness.
  • Feeling disconnected from reality, unable to process your emotions, and crying for no apparent reason.
  • Feeling that no one understands or cares.
  • Personality changes such as increased irritability, angry outbursts, and losing interest in things you used to enjoy.
  • Feeling numb and unmotivated.
  • Declining performance and inability to cope with minor issues.
  • Making mistakes you would not normally make.
  • Doubting your decisions and second-guessing the choices you make.
  • Feeling anxious, depressed, and/or unappreciated.
  • Feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, or unable to meet the demands of life.
  • Feeling hopeless, ineffective, trapped, and as though nothing will ever change.
  • Turning to comfort food or substances like alcohol or caffeine to cope with your feelings.

Strategies for preventing it.

  • Be aware of warning signs.
  • Learn and use relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, as well as grounding exercises, to keep you in the present moment.
  • Avoid isolating.
  • Set realistic goals and don’t try to push yourself beyond your limits.
  • Accept that you can’t do everything yourself, delegate tasks when possible, and be willing to ask for help when you need it.
  • Learn how to prioritize, set boundaries, and say no to unreasonable demands without feeling guilty.
  • Reach out to others for emotional support.
  • Do not neglect your physical health.
  • Make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, taking time for regular exercise, and getting enough sleep.
  • Limit your contact with negative people.
  • Take breaks to recharge.
  • Schedule time off.
  • Let go of perfectionism.
  • Create a healthy work/life balance.

Steps for overcoming emotional burnout.

  • The first and most important step is to acknowledge that you are feeling emotionally burned out and that you are not okay.
  • Be kind, compassionate, and nonjudgmental toward yourself.
  • Try and figure out what is causing you to feel burned out.
  • Reevaluate your priorities and consider possible solutions.
  • Realize you are not meant to be an island to yourself and let others into your life.
  • Reach out to trusted friends and loved ones for help and emotional support.
  • Take some time off to recover and focus on yourself.
  • Prioritize self-care.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet; stay well hydrated; get as much rest as you can; and try to engage in some form of exercise for at least thirty minutes every day even if you feel physically drained.
  • Physical activity is a proven method of releasing tension, boosting your mood, improving mental clarity, and relieving symptoms of emotional exhaustion.
  • Find things to make you laugh such as listening to a funny joke, thinking of a funny moment from the past, or watching a funny show, and practice looking for the humor in things. A good laugh exercises your muscles and has been found to lower blood pressure, heart rate, and stress hormones, as well as give your immune system a boost.
  • Express your feelings to God in prayer.
  • Seek professional counseling.

What the Bible says about preventing emotional burnout.

God commands us to rest to avoid burnout. He sets the example by resting on the seventh day after Creation.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. – Genesis 2:2, NIV

Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed. – Exodus 23:12, NIV

God gave us our bodies to be used and cared for wisely. Even though we are made in His image, our strength is not limitless, and we need rest.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” – Mark 6:31. NIV

Jesus wants us to come to Him when we are burdened and depend on His strength. When we do, He promises to fill our hearts with His peace that surpasses understanding.

Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. – Matthew 11:28

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7, NIV

We were not created to be lone rangers. God’s intent was for us to live in a community and help each other. Burnout, more often than not, is the result of trying to be self-reliant instead of depending on God for help and direction and reaching out to others for support.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3, ESV

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. – Romans 12:4-5, NIV

Christian counseling for individuals.

Counseling for emotional burnout is focused on helping you understand the causes of burnout, learning how to prevent it, and equipping you with tools for coping with the stressors you have no control over, as well as showing you how to manage the ones you do.

Christian counseling involves a combination of Biblical principles and traditional clinical intervention. It also includes prayer as part of the therapy sessions. If you have questions and/or would like to set up an appointment to meet with one of the faith-based counselors in our online directory, please give us a call today. Your first appointment is risk-free.

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